4 Reasons To Avoid The Imitation Trap

WHAT IS THE IMITATION TRAP?

I noticed the trap in pulpit ministry before I saw it in music ministry. Young preachers imitating older or better known preachers. Cadence, vocal pitch, even attempting to mimic the humor or jokes, and sometimes just outright stealing stories and analogies employed by the preacher they obviously admired.

The same thing is true in music ministries and if you’ve been around long enough you’ve probably seen it yourself. Churches whose bands play note for note everything exactly like it was off the record. The singer who is obviously trying to be Kim Walker-Smith or the worship leader who is shouting things because he heard Matt Redman do it.

The Imitation Trap is seeing the success of someone else, and assuming that this is the way that you have to do it. To judge your success not on what God has called you to do, but on how others live out their callings. I want to present four reasons that we as worship leaders should avoid this trap at all costs, and a positive alternative to imitation that might just be a way forward for you, and your ministry.

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The Month Of Delay

For whatever reason, and whether you like it or not, the delay effect has become a sound synonymous with modern church music. Staples like Hillsong, Paul Baloche, and Chris Tomlin, along with newer voices like Gungor and John Mark McMillian all employ the delay affect to varying degrees in the music.

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It’s Kinda Like Coldplay

This post isn’t just written for the worship leader. It’s for every member of the church’s worship band and community.

 I vividly remember the night. I was driving home from work in the summer of 2000. I had just graduated from High School and my car only had an FM radio. Then it happened, a song I’d never heard before came over the airwaves with sound that was both ground breaking and familiar all at the same time. This being the dark ages of technology, I had to sit in my parked car for three more songs to find out who this band was. The song was Yellow and the band was called Coldplay.  On my lunch break the next day I walked over to Sonic Boom records in Seattle and purchased the album Parachutes. Within two weeks, everyone I knew seemed to have a copy. That was 13 years ago.

Since then, Coldplay has grown and established itself in the mainstream musical consciousness of the Western World and beyond. Even if you’re the type of Christian who has a personal conviction not to listen to secular music, you have heard Coldplay. You often hear about Christian bands ripping off U2 (I’ve written about it HERE) but the truth is that they’ve been influenced by Coldplay just as much. Yet, again and again, I’ve been in a worship band practice and said “it’s kinda like Coldplay” and received nothing but a blank expression back. It’s been 13 years.

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The Electric: U2 and Modern Worship


Each Week I’ll try and address different aspects of the practical side of playing electric guitar in church music.

This week we’ll talk about worship bands, U2 and Ripping off The Edge.

The Edge

David Evans more widely known at “The Edge” is the guitar player from the band U2. If you don’t know who U2 is you have my permission to crawl out of the rock you’ve been living under for the last 30 years and download “Where the Streets Have No Name”,”Desire”, “Bad”, “With or Without You” and “Crumbs From Your Table” as a sample of the different eras of the Edge’s playing. Also watch the music video for “Streets have no Name” because its awesome.

Modern Worship Music: Just Rip Off U2?

Ever hear someone make a statement like that? Ever make that statement yourself? The reason that people make the comparison is that many worship bands, most notably Hillsong United use the “dotted 8th note” effect that the Edge pioneered (see example at the bottom of the post). And since Hillsong and other worship bands use the guitar effect associated with The Edge and U2, people associate modern praise and worship music with that band.

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